The 49ers have plenty of great players. One of them hasn’t been playing as great as he has in the past. But coach Kyle Shanahan isn’t concerned about it.
During Shanahan’s midweek press conference a question was posed regarding Kittle’s dramatic dip in production in his last eight games. Making the slide more confounding is the fact that, in the three games preceding the decline, Kittle had tremendous numbers. So why, Shanahan was asked, has Kittle not had the same kind of production since then?
“The more Kittle is out there and healthy, the more he practices, the more he can get back in the routine,” Shanahan said. “I think that stuff will take care of itself. The plays that went to him, I thought he did a good job on in the game. Kittle affects the game in so many ways, the run and the pass. We definitely want to get him the ball more, but it’s something we’re not that concerned about. We think it’ll take care of itself as we get going.”
The numbers are surprising. On December 5, he had 181 receiving yards and a pair of touchdowns against the Seahawks. He then had 151 yards — on 13 catches — against the Bengals, followed by 93 yards against the Falcons.
Then came the dip. Twenty-one yards in the loss to the Titans. Twenty-nine in a win over the Texans. Ten in the regular-season gotta-have-it finale against the Rams.
The postseason wasn’t dramatically better. Eighteen yards paint the Cowboys. Sixty-three against the Packers. Twenty-seven against the Rams. After missing the first two games of 2022 due to a groin injury, it has been twenty-eight and twenty-four yards in two games.
That’s 425 in three games followed by 210 in eight games. Whatever the reason, it’s not what anyone is used to seeing from Kittle.
The good news is that the 49ers are 2-2 and convincingly beat the Rams without a major contribution from Kittle. If/when things get rolling for Kittle, the 49ers will be in even better shape.